Hook, Line & Sinker

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Now that Spring Break is almost upon us, Green Valley Lake has been stocked, and fishing-license season is nearly in full swing, I can think of no more vital information to impart than the following tips, which collectively I have titled, "How to Take Your Children on Their Very First Fishing Expedition Without Going Completely Insane."

For your sake, please note the key word "completely," because it is impossible to engage in such an outing without turning into some level of drooling idiot.

First and foremost, explain to your offspring that if anyone in your party does indeed catch a fish and if anyone in your party intends to eat, it will be necessary to kill the fish. It's amazing, really, how this obvious need eludes the mental grasp of even the sharpest grade-schoolers, who when uninformed invariably start coming up with cute pet names for your catch before the hook has been from its slimy little lips.

Should you be neglect in heeding this warning, your ranking as one of Junior's two favorite parents will be seriously threatened the very moment you start scaling and cleaning the child's new best friend, "Flippy."

Also, limit your fish hunting to Green Valley Lake or any of the Rim country's other watery playgrounds, and avoid at all costs those privately owned and stocked fishing holes with names like "Bob's Trout Heaven." It was to one such place that I took my children for their first fishing expedition, and I have regretted it ever since.

For one thing, since the owners of these roadside establishments charge approximately $400 for each pound of trout you catch, they want nothing more than for you and your children to catch as many fish as possible before the kiddies get bored and start behaving like they kind of "Survivor" contestant you'd love to see eaten by alligators.

To that monetary end, the owners load their ponds with more fish than water and, in lieu of ever actually feeding them (I am fairly certain), circle the pond two or three times a day disguised as a big, fat juicy earthworm to really get their appetites up. As a result, by the time you and your offspring show up at pondside, those fish are ready to chow down on ANYTHING.

That is not an exaggeration. When my kids and I arrived at "Bob's Trout Heaven," we were handed fishing poles complete with hooks that had been pre-baited ... with strips of old, dirty leather.

But before I was capable of forming the mental question, "Why in the world would anyone bait a hook with leather?," my kids had caught $172.00 worth of trout and had decided that nothing they had ever experienced was quite so exciting and action-packed as fishing.

Plus, they suddenly had about 20 new best friends with adorable names like "Flippy."

On the bright side, places like "Bob's Trout Heaven" surreptitiously scale and clean your fish for you. And since even the sharpest kids have almost non-existent attention spans, they will forget about their new pets long before the fishies' freshly murdered corpses are handed to you in a brown paper bag.

On the dark side, after a single trip to a place like "Bob's Trout Heaven," your first-time fisherkids like mine will spend every subsequent fishing adventure whining and moaning about how boring it is to fish anywhere but "Bob's Trout Heaven."

And that brings us at last to the reason why Green Valley Lake is such an ideal place to introduce youngsters to Man's Favorite Sport.

They can walk home.

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